Disney's golden boy, Johnny Depp, won't be stepping into another potential franchise for the Mouse House as we'd expected. Yesterday, Disney shut down production on The Lone Ranger, which would have seen Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the titular character. Like the Pirates franchise, Ranger was backed by mega producer Jerry Bruckheimer and set to be directed by Gore Verbinski.
Disney hoped to make the film into a franchise with the release of the first film set for next summer, however, there seem to have been some budgetary disagreements between the studio and Verbinski. As you'd probably expect, Disney didn't want to give Verbinski the amount he claims he needs to do the film right. This doesn't bode well for Depp hopping on board for Pirates 5, especially after expressing sentiments about his reservations about a few of the Pirates sequels.
While it's certainly not great news, it makes sense in light of recent box office events. Cowboys and Aliens, another big-budget western with hopes of a franchise, didn't do all that well and Disney's already coughed up heaps of money for a few other upcoming and recent projects like John Carter. Before its shut-down, production on The Lone Ranger was set to begin in October.